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The Building of Suburbia
Wendy Elkis Girnis, Class of 1977
From 1941 until 1945, the United States was involved in WWII. It was fought in Europe, as well as in the Pacific. During those years, 16 million Americans served in the Armed Forces. Back at home, life consisted of rubber drives, steel drives, and book drives, as well as the rationing of food and other items. Housing construction had stopped to allocate building supplies to the war effort. In 1944, the Veterans Administration home loan program came into existence. This program had a major impact on the housing market, and led to the growth of suburban areas including Levittown and Hicksville.
My name is Phil Girnis and I lived in Hicksville on and off for forty years, before leaving Long Island in the 1980s to pursue a job opportunity out of state. My parents moved from Queens to Hicksville in the summer of 1957. I attended East Street School for the 5th and 6th grades and Hicksville Junior High for 7th and 8th. My remembrances of Hicksville life are quite different than most because of one factor: Location. We lived in the easternmost section of Hicksville. Our little development was bounded on the west by New South Rd. (adjoining the Lilco building on Old Country Rd.) and the east by South Oyster Bay Rd. I was within two or three blocks from the borders of Hicksville, Bethpage, and Plainview.
Hicksville Against Drugs, Inc. (H.A.D., Inc.) which was also known as Help-Aid-Direction (H.A.D.) was started in the late 1960s by various Hicksville residents to deal with the growth of drug abuse among Hicksville community youth and young adults.
I walked into CVS the other day to pick up some prescriptions. We all know those golden days aren’t so golden. Anyway, this is not about aging or prescription drugs. It’s about looking back 55 years ago.
As I walked past a woman to get on the long line at the pharmacy, something struck me about her. She looked awfully familiar. It didn’t take long to realize why. I turned to my wife and said, “That’s my kindergarten teacher, Miss McCormack.”
Submitted by Hope Cedar Dagan, Class of 1980
The year was 1972. Richard Nixon was president. The Godfather was the top grossing movie, and Calda pizza opened its doors in Hicksville, where it still stands today . Calda is a family owned business, started by Greg and Theodora Vlasopoulos, and now owned and operated by their son, Christopher Vlasopoulos.
Calda was a big part of my childhood, and even though I moved to Florida over 30 years ago, I still visit Calda when I’m in NY.
Holiday HFD Open House/ Tree Lighting / Popcorn Ball Fun
As noted in some earlier articles, Hicksville has been our home for many years. It was a place where the middle class made their home. The population boom of the 1950s doubled, then tripled Hicksville's population. The sense of community grew in popularity during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Submitted by Karl Schweitzer, Class of 1981
Bars, pubs and taverns have dotted the landscape of Hicksville for more than 160 years. A quick recollection of an old memory can turn into a marathon night of conversation with nostalgic memories of “the good old days”. Recently, while attending a wedding, I found myself in an unplanned game of “Name that Bar." A conversation that started between my brother and me, expanded to include half the party. It literally went on for hours and it was the impetus for this article.
1959 was a busy year; Fidel Castro came into power, the Barbie doll was launched, Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states respectively, most of my classmates, the class of '77, were born, and Wetson's Hamburgers began.
Mid-Island Plaza was more than just an assortment of stores. It was a place where people could shop for a variety of goods and services in one area. Gone were Huettners and Spiros Department Stores, and the widening of downtown Hicksville was on the horizon. Malls and shopping plazas were designed as social hubs, places where people could come together, spend time, and, of course, shop.
Hicksville Hotels were the end of the line for the Railroad and a Boom for the Hicksville Community.
Hicksville was a place where the middle class made their home and it was the population boom of the 1950s that doubled, then tripled its population. Schools were built faster than anywhere on Long Island.
In the field of amateur sports, one has reached a fine point of development on Long Island and one rarely reported as a sport. For over 81 years, the Hicksville Fire Department hosted the Invitational Parade and Drill on Labor Day weekend, which has become the most watched event across New York State. The Hicksville community can claim distinction as the oldest hosting community across the entire state, with a larger spectator attendance than the statewide competition. However, it was more than just a competition between volunteer firefighters.
One of my favorite places growing up as a child in Hicksville was the Farmer’s Market.
It meant time spent riding the carousel, mugging in the Fun House mirror, and watching “The Three Stooges” with my older sister. All while our parents would shop. It meant eating fresh grapes, chocolate pops, and cinnamon babka. All were surrounded by the sights and smells of fresh vegetables, sawdust, and barrels of pickles. It was an exotic place where you could meet neighbors and friends on a Friday night. A true suburban bazaar.
What’s there now: There is still shopping taking place on that large site in Bethpage. Just not as eclectic and exciting as it used to be.